The key to the success of a romantic comedy is the chemistry between the lead players. The dictum is often repeated but seldom followed. Director Mandeep Kumar plays safe. Known for his Punjabi hits, Kumar casts a real-life couple even though it means putting them in a setting alien to them. Like Ashwini Chaudhary, director Mandeep Kumar has also done the casting against the type. Who could expect Ritesh Deshmukh to play a Haryanvi or an urbane Genelia in a ghagra choli? Many would suspect that the film is an attempt to re-launch the politician's son as a solo hero, but Kumar knows how to mould the clay.

He plays on the docile image of Ritesh and has crafted him as a black sheep in a family of kidnappers. Genelia keeps hinting that he doesn't have ‘it'. Perhaps she is hinting at the X factor that makes an actor a star. Similarly Om Puri, who heads the gang, keeps wondering about Genelia's irresistible liveliness. It is these asides on the lead players that make it an irreverent film, which you can laugh with or laugh at. Both ways you get dollops of fun provided you keep your expectations in check. It starts off in a predictable fashion with Ritesh playing Viren, a self-respecting auto driver who loves to spread his arms like Shah Rukh Khan. He kidnaps a Mini-dynamite (Genelia D'Souza), who is yearning to break free from her father (Tinu Anand keen on packing her off to ‘Caneda'). The world believes he has kidnapped her, but the reality is the trigger-happy girl has engineered the plot.

As the two rebels ride towards the hills, the famed bonding of Ritesh and Genelia comes into play. These are predictable portions of a romcom, but Genelia keeps the fizz in the chemistry going even when Ritesh is found wanting. Genelia doesn't bring many things to the table, but her effervescence continues to be infectious. Even as we begin to believe that the two will walk into the sunset after a couple of action sequences, Kumar springs a surprise by allowing us a glimpse of Viren's family. Using his flair for broad Punjabi humour, Kumar manages to create some funny situations, bringing alive the earthy flavour of the hinterland. However, in the second half, he gets indulgent and the proceedings become so syrupy that even an item number Veena Malik fails to spice up the mood. A little more depth in the writing, crispness in the dialogues and sharpness with the scissors would have turned it into a pleasant surprise of the week.

Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Director: Mandeep Kumar

Cast: Ritesh Deshmukh, Genelia D'Souza, Om Puri, Tinu Anand

Storyline: Two rebels running away from tradition strike a chord on the run.

Bottomline: Won't mind the experience if somebody else is paying for the ticket!